By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 22, 2017)
Being There – The Criterion Collection Blu-ray
Filmmaker Hal Ashby was an essential contributor to the new American cinema movement of the 1970s. He spanned the decade with an astonishing seven film streak: The Landlord (1970), Harold and Maude (1971), The Last Detail (1973), Shampoo (1975), Bound for Glory (1976), Coming Home (1978), and this 1979 masterpiece.
Like Sidney Lumet’s Network, Ashby’s Being There becomes more vital in the fullness of time. Adapted from Jerzy Kosinki’s novel by frequent Ashby collaborator Robert C. Jones, it is a wry political fable about a simpleton (Peter Sellers, in one of his greatest performances) who stumbles his way into becoming a Washington D.C. power player within an alarmingly short period of time.
Superbly acted; from the leading players (Sellers, Melvyn Douglas, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart to the supporting roles (especially the wonderful Ruth Attaway).
Criterion’s Blu-ray features a beautiful 4K restoration and a plethora of enlightening extra features.